What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic condition of lungs that causes inflammation & narrowing of airways.
It is a very common condition all over the world among all age groups.
In healthy individuals airways are tubes that carry air from lungs in & out , but in case of Asthma, the airway becomes swollen & tightened due which it results in less amount of air to enter into the lungs & thus causing symptoms of Asthma like wheezing, cough and shortness of breath.
What are the types of Asthma?
- 1. Extrinsic asthma (allergic):
- This type of asthma is triggered by allergens. Hence, it is also termed as Allergic Asthma.
- Extrinsic asthma is commonly seen in children.
- About 90% of childhood asthma are due to allergens & positive family history
- In extrinsic asthma, immune system exerts a protective mechanism which reacts to simple harmless substances such as pollen and produces antibodies.
- This results in symptoms like hay fever, rhinitis and asthma. In case of asthma, the allergic reaction is observed in lungs which results in production of huge amounts of mucus that obstructs the air passage causing symptoms like wheezing, heaviness in chest , etc.
- 2. Intrinsic asthma (non allergic):
The cause of intrinsic asthma is unknown.
- It is generally caused by extremes of emotional feelings like laughing, crying, stress or contact with chemicals like cigarette smoke, aspirin, cleaning agents or chest infection or exercises.
- These agents act by stimulating the response of the nerves in the air passage.
- Exercise induced asthma is a subtype of intrinsic asthma. It is generally seen immediately after exercising.
- Also nocturnal asthma is observed in the early hours of the night in between 2 to 4. It is common with both extrinsic and intrinsic asthma patients.
What are the causes of Asthma?
Asthma does not have a single cause it may be combination of environmental factors & genetic factors.
Asthma is caused and maintained by the following causes:
- An inherited tendency to develop allergies, called atopy
- Genetic or Hereditary cause
- Family History: Parents who have asthma
- Infections: Certain respiratory infections during childhood
- Allergens: Contact with some airborne allergens or exposure to some viral infections in infancy or in early childhood when the immune system is developing.
Risk factors of Asthma:
- Positive family history ( asthma in parents or siblings )
- Low birth weight
- Exposure to fumes, pollution , chemicals, pollen, etc
- Suffering from another allergic condition like hay fever, allergic rhinitis
- Exposure to secondhand smoke
- GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease)
Triggering agents of Asthma:
These agents can trigger Asthmatic attack:
- Allergens like pollen, dander, mold, dust mites, animal fur cockroaches etc.
- Certain foods like peanuts, soy, fish, cow's milk, and shellfish
- Strong emotions
- Cold air, dry air
- Air pollutants, irritants like smoke etc.
- Excessive physical activity
- Viral infections
- Changes in weather
- Certain drugs like NSAIDS, Aspirin, and Steroids.
What are the symptoms of Asthma?
Intensity, Duration and Recurrence of Asthma may differ from person to person.
Few people may experience attack of Asthma after exertion; some may feel their throat is strangled. Some may experience only after exposure to dust or allergens, while some may experience be after respiratory infections or viral infections.
Common presentation of Asthma:
- Coughing from asthma often is worse at night or early in the morning, making it hard to sleep, it is usually worsened by viral infections
- Wheezing is a whistling or squeaky sound that occurs during breathing, it is a common sign in asthma
- Chest tightness it feels like something is squeezing or sitting on the chest, with pain in chest.
- Shortness of breath (Breathlessness) , can't catch breathe or feel out of breath, sensation as if can’t get air out of lungs.
- Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, tightness & wheezing in chest. Cannot lie down dyspnoea.
- Tightening of neck muscles, rapidity of breathing
- Difficulty in talking
- Excessive sweating during the attacks
Check your level of Asthma:
Mild intermittent Asthma:
The Asthmatic episodes are experienced twice a week or less, in between the asthmatic episodes, you may not have any symptoms and your lung function is normal.
Mild persistent asthma:
The Asthmatic episodes are experienced more than twice a week, but not more than once in a single day. You may be bothered by symptoms at night more than twice a month.
Moderate persistent asthma:
The Asthmatic episode is every day, and you are bothered by nighttime symptoms more than once a week.
Severe persistent asthma:
The Asthmatic episode is throughout the day on most days, and you are bothered by night time symptoms often.
How is Asthma Diagnosed?
Diagnosing Asthma generally includes Physical examination and Lung tests.
Physical examination is done to access the severity of following symptoms:
- Recurrent respiratory infections
- Allergic cough worse at night
- Sudden onset of wheezing and shortness of breath when exposed to allergens
- Your family history of asthma and allergies
- Medicines you may have used to help your breathing
A physical examination of your respiratory system and a general examination is done to rule out other illness.
Pulmonary function tests:
• Challenge test
• Exhaled Nitric oxide test
• Complete Blood count
• Chest and Sinus X-rays
• CT scan (not done routinely)
• GERD assessment test (if associated gastric symptoms)
What is the Treatment for Asthma?
Asthma in adults is considered to be almost a life long suffering for most patients, if not all. The crucial issue is to manage it well, using milder medicines and achieving a relatively attack free phase for a long time.
Homeopathy offers excellent treatment for asthma, which can do following jobs:
a. Reduce significantly frequency of asthmatic attacks
b. Reduce significantly severity of asthmatic attacks
c. Reduce duration of attacks
d. Reduce need for bronchodilators, cortisone and antibiotic (in case of infections). In many patients, especially in children, homeopathic treatment can help get rid off all other medications.
There is reduced dependency on bronchodilators and steroid inhalers with continued homeopathic treatment.
People who regularly use steroid inhalers (and large doses of the same for a long time) must watch out for side-effects of the same such as:
• Irritability, mood swings, aggression, depression and insomnia
• Stunted growth in children
• Steroid psychosis in severe cases
• Oral thrush or candidiasis
What Precautions to be taken for Asthma?
- Reduce the exposure of dust, pollen, pets etc, as these factors will trigger the asthma
- Use face mask while cleaning or in coming contact with dust or smoke
- Quit smoking as it will make the condition more worse
- Eat more of antioxidant rich food like , prunes, raisins, onion, strawberries, cherries, amla as they will help in building immunity & prevent body from infections
- A regular practice of yoga helps to gain control over the symptoms naturally without the use of drugs.
Homeopathic Medications for Asthma:
- Arsenicum Album
- Nat Sulph
- Nux vom
- Ailantheus glandulosa
- Blatta orientalis
- Glycyrrhiza glabra
- Acalypha indica
- Justicia adhatoda